The Greatest Knight: The Unsung Story of the Queen's Champion

The Greatest Knight  - Elizabeth Chadwick This is a biographic novel of William Marshall, one of the great knights of England, a man who served four English Kings, including Richard the Lionhearted, who was involved with the Magna Carta and served as regent to Henry III. So, a fascinating figure, but I'm afraid a less than fascinating book. The problem may be that the book tried to cover too much ground--despite being over 500 pages and covering only about half his life. Years would pass between chapters that seemed to skim over Marshall's life in a superficial way without a sense of a thematic unity. I never got a sense of inner life or conflict in Marshall. The novel seems accurate and well-researched from what I know, without giving me a sense of the very different mindset of an age over eight centuries in the past. The style was decent--workmanlike--but not striking and with no lines to linger over. It says a lot that when a new book by a favorite author came out while I was a hundred pages in, I immediately dropped this novel without hesitation to read the other book and didn't resume until finished. Chadwick is supposed to be a very respected novelist in historical fiction. A blurb on the back of this novel says she's "to Medieval English history what Philippa Gregory is to the Tudors and Stuarts." That was meant as a compliment, I'm sure, and indicated Chadwick's popularity, even if personally I think Gregory a truly awful writer (and abuser of history.) I liked Chadwick a lot more than Gregory--which isn't high praise. I finally dropped this midway when I realized rather than continue trudging on, this book only made me want to look up and read Sharon Kay Penman's Devil's Brood, where Marshall is a major character, given I know from Here Be Dragons Penman has the ability to move and captivate me--something completely missing from my experience with Chadwick.